Do Sponsors Sell, Sell, Sell? Not Necessarily

One of the biggest concerns about corporate sponsors is …. if they’re given a platform, they’ll sell.

  • if we let them present at a conference session or webinar, they’ll sell
  • if we let them do focus groups, they’ll sell
  • if we let them speak with our board members, they’ll sell

What to do?

Here are 2 rules that associations should explain to sponsors:

(1) Educate to sell, don’t sell to educate. Clarify that they will be more likely to fulfill their sponsorship goals – even if those goals include “getting more customers” – by educating, not selling. (If the company wants to promote sales, they should buy a bigger exhibit booth or more advertisements.)

(2) Awhile back I read this TED Commandment: “Thou shalt not sell from the stage: Neither thy company, thy goods, thy writings, nor thy desperate need for funding; least thou be cast aside into outer darkness.” (TED Talks have been successful with this mantra.)

These guidelines will minimize or eliminate overly commercial content from sponsors. Other benefits: these guidelines will increase the value of sponsorships and differentiate sponsors from other companies.